Hotels need to think critically about the types of guests they want to attract before they begin strategically building a brand and planning amenities. The needs and expectations of different target populations can vary quite dramatically. For example, the expectations of a millennial traveler will differ from those of a baby boomer. Likewise, the needs of a family traveling with children will prove quite different from those of a business traveler.
For many hotels, business professionals constitute a large proportion of guests, so it makes sense to cater heavily to this demographic. One of the most critical amenities for business professionals is a business center, although the expectations for this amenity have changed a lot in recent years. Some tips for offering the best business center possible include:
Invest in cybersecurity.
Recently, cyberattacks on hotel computers have made headlines, making some business travelers anxious about using business center computers. The risk is that illegally installed malware could track keyboard strokes, making it possible for criminals to hack accounts. Hotels need to restore confidence among their guests by investing in state-of-the-art cybersecurity and advertising the steps they have taken to safeguard their network. While the fear of hacking has centered on hotel-owned computers, hotels should also ensure that their wireless networks are secure. A clear, easily accessible breakdown of what’s been done to prevent cyber threats may help business travelers feel more confident when working on the road and could be a deciding factor in their choice of where to stay.
Decentralize the business center.
While it makes sense for some hotels to maintain a dedicated business center, hotels can also decentralize this amenity. Since more people travel with laptops and tablets than ever before, most business travelers would prefer to work in their rooms than in a business center. However, hotels can still appeal to these individuals by giving them spaces throughout the hotel to use if they want to get out of their room. Areas with desks, large tables, and comfortable seating options are especially appreciated. Furthermore, hotels can invest in a small collection of tablets and laptops that can be lent to guests during their stay, in case they forget their own but would still prefer working in the solitude of their room. Importantly, hotels should still offer all the functionality of a business center, such as printing documents, even if there’s no longer one central location. Many hotels accomplish this by offering wireless printing from guest rooms.
Team with other companies.
One of the most effective ways to offer more value to business travelers is to team with companies that provide printing, copying, shipping, and similar services. This way, guests don’t have to leave the hotel for tasks like overnighting a package or printing several copies of a report for a meeting. When hotels build relationships with companies that offer these services, such as FedEx or a local provider, they can help guests get what they need quickly. Hotels should maintain a central resource, such as a web page, with links to all the different options available, and potentially even hire a business concierge to help guests access services. For example, if a guest needs to print posters for a presentation, the concierge could take care of this by receiving the guest’s files and working with FedEx to ensure the posters are printed correctly and on schedule.
Create transformable spaces.
Not all guests will need the same sort of space when it comes to a business center. To acknowledge this fact, hotels can build highly transformable spaces with furniture that can easily be moved—or even create modular rooms with moveable floor-to-ceiling dividers, cubicles, and privacy pods. A flexible business center makes it possible for groups to hold small, intimate meetings or larger ones. In addition, hotels can provide technologies such as teleconferencing devices and even cameras and screens that can be used for videoconferencing. Such flexibility could eliminate the need for business travelers to seek out other spaces for meetings, which can increase revenue for the hotel while also building brand loyalty.
Think about technology support.
Business travelers rely on technology to get their work done, but that does not necessarily mean that they’re experts. When things go wrong, hotels should have support staff who can help guests solve tech problems, especially those associated with accessing the internet or printing. However, technology support also includes much more basic amenities. For example, all business centers, rooms, or spaces designed to be used for work should have ample power outlets and even ethernet ports and cords that can be used as backup if the wireless network isn’t working. Guests also appreciate power outlets with USB ports. In addition, hotels can purchase backup chargers for popular electronic devices so that guests don’t have to stress if they lost theirs or simply forgot to pack them. Other tech accessories hotels may wish to purchase include headphones and disc drives.